Automated remote cameras for monitoring alluvial sandbars on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, Arizona

Open-File Report 2018-1019
Prepared in cooperation with Northern Arizona University
By: , and 

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Abstract

Automated camera systems deployed at 43 remote locations along the Colorado River corridor in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, are used to document sandbar erosion and deposition that are associated with the operations of Glen Canyon Dam. The camera systems, which can operate independently for a year or more, consist of a digital camera triggered by a separate data controller, both of which are powered by an external battery and solar panel. Analysis of images for categorical changes in sandbar size show deposition at 50 percent or more of monitoring sites during controlled flood releases done in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016. The images also depict erosion of sandbars and show that erosion rates were highest in the first 3 months following each controlled flood. Erosion rates were highest in 2015, the year of highest annual dam release volume. Comparison of the categorical estimates of sandbar change agree with sandbar change (erosion or deposition) measured by topographic surveys in 76 percent of cases evaluated. A semiautomated method for quantifying changes in sandbar area from the remote-camera images by rectifying the oblique images and segmenting the sandbar from the rest of the image is presented. Calculation of sandbar area by this method agrees with sandbar area determined by topographic survey within approximately 8 percent and allows quantification of sandbar area monthly (or more frequently).

Suggested Citation

Grams, P.E., Tusso, R.B., and Buscombe, D., 2018, Automated remote cameras for monitoring alluvial sandbars on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1019, 50 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181019.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Study Area and Monitoring Locations
  • Description of Remote-Camera Systems
  • Image Processing and Analysis
  • Sandbar Area at RC0307 Between October 2009 and October 2015
  • References Cited
  • Appendixes

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Automated remote cameras for monitoring alluvial sandbars on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, Arizona
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2018-1019
DOI 10.3133/ofr20181019
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description xi, 50 p.
Country United States
State Arizona
Other Geospatial Colorado River, Grand Canyon
Online Only (Y/N) Y